Monday, September 08, 2008

The year in review and the lessons I learned.

It’s been almost 1 year since I made the jump and left a cushy office environment to work from home full-time. For those of you that are just tuning in, my first blog post "A New Beginning" was the start of this career fork in my road.

I find, on this last week in November, that everything is slowing down.
This is the time of year in the business world where interest in the upcoming holidays prevails over other matters.
In the past, I’ve always taken pleasure in hearing the first Christmas carol because it means I would have a more relaxed schedule in the next 6 weeks.
As a freelancer, I have to admit, it’s an anxious, unnerving feeling.
Even though it has been a successful year for me, I’m not as relaxed because of all the questions running through my head…

Did I meet my goals and expectations this year?
Were my clients happy and will they come back?
When will I get my next paycheque?

I guess what I have to do is simply accept the fact that by not being on a payroll, I have a bit of time to kill at the end of the year. I have tried quite hard to get the ball rolling in the past few weeks, and there is some potential for some upcoming work, but for the most part, I have been met with the same answer…”We’re winding down…call me in the new year”. So, it seems that I’m really working on my schedule for the second week of January at the moment.

I’m going to spend the last month of the year entering some pieces into award shows, burning backup DVDs of work and all the personal video I shot this year, and hopefully improving my website and business materials.
I also have the I-Tunes gift certificate I received from this website as an award for this blog. I-Tunes just released the entire Led Zeppelin collection so I’m finally going to spend some of it. Once again, I thank you. It was great to be recognized in this manner.

I’d also like to thank many of you for writing me personally. I got emails from all over the world originating from this site with questions, comments and even praise.
Winning an award for the work you do is great. Having strangers tell you that you have inspired them is even greater.

So, I guess the only thing left to do before I hit the holiday party circuit (and its free-flowing single malts), is to tell you what I learned working from home this year…

When it comes to business (and for the most part, life), there is typically no such thing as “a sure thing”, no matter how sure it seems.

A high paying rush job will always come in after you’ve committed to a lower paying rush job.

Have some respect for your account people, it’s not an easy job.

The project you spent all night on won’t be needed or looked at for at least 2 days.

The client that calls you needing a quote because they want to get started right away will then sit on your proposal for a month.

The new client that sounds like they will be a pain in the ass will in fact be a pain in the ass.

A 45-minute walk outdoors at lunch each day is great exercise (I lost 20lbs and I’m a small guy to begin with).

Charge the client that wants a discount because they “know people and promise that you’ll get more work out of it” the same as anybody else.

Do not keep all your eggs in one basket and if you do, make sure you take very good care of that basket.

Your hobbies and relaxation time are as important as your career.

Spec creative contests are unethical and undervalue our profession.

A client you enjoy working with is worth its weight in gold.

Nothing in the world is more enjoyable than being at home the moment your child gets back from kindergarten armed with a painting they made for you.

Free press-release websites and online listings are powerful marketing tools.

There is no such thing as rush hour in the city of Toronto anymore. It’s always rush hour.

Get everything in writing, and signed, even if you're doing a project with your best friend.

People driving through my neighbourhood don’t seem to care about stop signs.

Have your business card on you at all times. Even at the Supermarket.

The internet and it’s forums are like drugs. Make sure you limit your intake and don’t let them take over your life.

Writing a blog is a very enjoyable recess.

The clock runs quickly. In an office, it was always “I can’t believe it’s only 2:00pm”. Working from home, it’s “I can’t believe it’s already time for dinner.”
Life goes by fast. Real fast. I can’t believe an entire year has flown by.

And finally, Family comes first.
No matter what.

Have a happy holiday season (whatever you celebrate), and may 2008 be a great year for you and yours.

Until next time. Keep Dreaming.

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